Emergency heat: you see it, you know it is there, but do you really know what you are supposed to do with it or how it should be used? Did you even know you might be using it incorrectly? Don’t worry! We have gathered a list of some do’s and don’ts below for using emergency heat to help you out this winter.

Do: know what emergency heat is and how it works.

The emergency heat pump, sometimes also called the “auxiliary heat” pump, is known in the HVAC world as the “second stage” of heat that your house runs on. In most HVAC units, the heat pump will pull in air from outside of your home or office that will then be heated or cooled to the desired temperature set by your thermostat. However, what happens when it is too cold outside for the air to be pulled in and heated normally? This is where emergency heat comes in.

Typically, this setting on your thermostat kicks on when the temperature is anywhere between 30 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. How your emergency uses this air differs from the normal way that your heat pump usually functions. The best way to understand how emergency heat works is to think of the heating unit converting itself into an electric furnace. When this emergency heat setting is turned on, your thermostat will tell the air handler to bypass your heat pump directly and access the electric coils, natural gas, or oil connected to the air handler. As you can see, though, this is not just your run-of-the-mill heating system. Emergency heating is a complex process that involves burning a large amount of energy. Therefore, it is important to know how to properly use your emergency heat—which leads us to our next point.

Don’t: turn on emergency heat just because it’s cold.

One of the more common misconceptions about emergency heat is that it is normal to continually use it when it is especially cold outside. While it is true that the emergency heat setting will kick on when it drops to near or below freezing temperatures, as mentioned earlier, it is important to remember to turn your thermostat back to the regular heat setting when this occurs.

 As the name implies, emergency heat is to be used for (yep, you guessed it) emergency situations only. What do we mean by an emergency? Basically, any instance that you can think of for when you cannot use the HVAC unit as it is normally intended. For example, say a tree falls onto your outside HVAC unit, or your heat pump begins to freeze over and shorten out. In these instances, it is a good idea to go ahead and turn on emergency heat while you wait for an HVAC professional to come out to your home or office and fix the problem.

 So, to sum up everything that we just covered, emergency heat is not supposed to run the way that your regular heat setting does—and it is especially not meant to run all day and night during the long, frosty winter months. This leads us to one more topic that we need to cover when it comes to using emergency heat correctly, and it can help keep your energy bill from breaking the bank.

Do: only run your emergency heat for a short amount of time.

Since emergency heat is essentially a second source of heating, you will wind up having to pay for using it on top of your pre-existing regular heat source. This can end up getting particularly costly, especially if you just keep running emergency heat simply because it is cold. Not only is this more expensive, but it is also harder on your HVAC unit—since emergency heat is only meant to run until the problem with your HVAC unit is resolved. This means that you could not only wind up having to pay a high energy bill, but you can also be paying for other costly repairs to your HVAC unit if you keep using emergency heat in this unintended way. Therefore, it is imperative to know exactly what your emergency heat setting does as well as how to properly use it. Like any other appliance in your home or office: if you take care of it properly, it could last you a lifetime.

Don’t: try to fix the problem on your own.

So, say that you have now found yourself in a situation where it is necessary to turn on your emergency heat. Do not waste any more time and money running up your energy bill by overusing emergency heat or attempting to make repairs to your HVAC unit, air handler, or heat pump by yourself. Give City Heating and Air a call today.

We been providing a variety of services, including a 24/7 emergency helpline, to the East Tennessee area for the last 50 years. So, whether it is time for an annual, routine inspection, commercial repairs, or installing a new HVAC unit into your home or office—you can trust that City Heating and Air can provide you or your business with dependable service rooted in integrity. As a local business ourselves, we understand what it means to serve our fellow neighbor and what goes into making your home and livelihood a place that is comfortable and enjoyable. Let us come show you how. Check out our SERVICES page on our website to learn more about all our residential, commercial, and new construction HVAC services. Call us at (865)-938-1005 or visit our CONTACT page to reach out and register for a quote with us today.